New Books Network

Christina Proenza-Coles

American Founders

How People of African Descent Established Freedom in the New World

NewSouth Books 2018

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Latin American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network June 11, 2019 Adam McNeil

Christina Proenza-Coles‘ new book American Founders: How People of African Descent Established Freedom in the New World (NewSouth Books, 2019) reveals men and women...

Christina Proenza-Coles‘ new book American Founders: How People of African Descent Established Freedom in the New World (NewSouth Books, 2019) reveals men and women of African descent as key protagonists in the story of American democracy. It chronicles how black people developed and defended New World settlements, undermined slavery, and championed freedom throughout the hemisphere from the sixteenth thorough the twentieth centuries. While conventional history tends to reduce the roles of African Americans to antebellum slavery and the civil rights movement, in reality African residents preceded the English by a century and arrived in the Americas in numbers that far exceeded European migrants up until 1820. Afro-Americans were omnipresent in the founding and advancement of the Americas, and recurrently outnumbered Europeans at many times and places, from colonial Peru to antebellum Virginia. African-descended people contributed to every facet of American history as explorers, conquistadores, settlers, soldiers, sailors, servants, slaves, rebels, leaders, lawyers, litigants, laborers, artisans, artists, activists, translators, teachers, doctors, nurses, inventors, investors, merchants, mathematicians, scientists, scholars, engineers, entrepreneurs, generals, cowboys, pirates, professors, politicians, priests, poets, and presidents. The multitude of events and mixed-race individuals included in the book underscores that black and white Americans share the same history, and in many cases, the same ancestry. American Founders is meant to celebrate this shared heritage and strengthen these bonds.


Adam McNeil is PhD student in History at the University of Delaware where he is an African American Public Humanities Initiative and Colored Conventions Project Scholar. He received his M.A. in History at Simmons College in 2018 and his B.S. in History at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in 2015. Follow him @CulturedModesty on Twitter to learn more about upcoming interviews.